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Snowshoeing the Ridges Sanctuary - Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin

A side trail leads out to the shore of Lake Michigan.
A side trail leads out to the shore of Lake Michigan.Jimmy Jacobs

The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin is a year-round natural wonder in the northeast part of the state on the Door County peninsula. First established in 1937, the 1,600-acre preserve of forests and wetlands is home to 60 species of nesting birds, rare plant communities and miles of trails near the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Ridges is the oldest non-profit nature preserve in Wisconsin
The Ridges is the oldest non-profit nature preserve in WisconsinJimmy Jacobs

But, few people see the Ridges in the frigid month, when it turns into a winter wonderland. Trekking on the trails in snowshoes is a way to experience a different side of nature in the north land.

The trail system consists of more than five miles of paths, including three color-coded loop trails totaling 3.3 miles. Along the way the paths pass the Baileys Harbor Rangelights that once guided ships into the harbor. They also cross raised wooden boardwalks over several swales that create open lanes through the woodlands. A short side trail from the Lower Rangelight leads to the shore of Lake Michigan, where it is possible to literally walk out onto the giant lake.

The Sanctuary was Wisconsin’s first land trust property, is the state’s oldest non-profit nature preserve, as well as being named a State Natural Area and National Natural Landmark.

The Upper Rangelight now serves as the office for the Ridges. Located nearby is the Nature Center and the Marshall Cabin, an 1854 pioneer log home that was moved to the property.

The Ridges offers a year-round schedule of hikes, workshops, educational activities, nature store and special events.